Missed opportunities costly for Warwick in loss to L-S

By on March 26, 2014
softball

Without question, Victoria Byler had the at-bat of the game for the Warwick softball team on Monday.

Facing an early 0-2 hole in the count, the Lady Warriors’ senior shortstop worked Lampeter-Strasburg pitcher Jordan Weaver for nine pitches and ultimately delivered an RBI single to center field in the bottom of the sixth inning.

“To battle back where she got it 3-2, fouled off about two or three pitches, and then finally got that big hit to score Ashley (Royer) was just key,” Warwick coach Mark Hough said. “That’s what we’re really going to be about this year is just fighting every time in every at-bat.”

Unfortunately for the Warwick girls, they needed more at-bats like that with the bases loaded in the third and fourth innings while trying to cut into the Lady Pioneers’ lead of 4-0. L-S starter Courtney Martin and then Weaver limited the damage and the Section Three favorites held on for a 6-3 non-league win in bitter cold conditions in Lititz.

“I kinda kicked myself on that one play when I got Lacey (Lefever) hung up between third and home,” Hough said. “But it’s a lot of credit to their pitching and we just didn’t get the hits at the right time, but I still am confident in what we can accomplish this year. It was just a tough one out there with the weather.”

Coming off a 10-2 win over Donegal last Friday in their season opener behind pitcher Tessa Eckman, the Lady Warriors (1-1) were looking to make it two straight over the top two Section Three contenders. Lefever drew the starting assignment against L-S and allowed just one hit in the first two innings. But that base knock, off the bat of Weaver with two outs in the top of the second, drove in Isabella Miranda, who worked a leadoff walk, with the first run of the game.

“We’ve really got a great chemistry between the two kids (Eckman and Lefever),” Hough said. “I think they both present different challenges for teams and we really want to take advantage of that.”

In the third inning, the Lady Pioneers took advantage of the skills of leadoff batter Brianna Garber (3-for-4, 2 runs), who got on base with one out on a slap hit, stole two bases and scored when Amber Schreder’s hit fell in shallow center field just out of the reach of Byler.

“(Garber)’s a sparkplug,” Hough said. “Anybody who can consistently get the slap down and then kinda set the table – I mean, she gets on first, steals second, steals third and immediately puts you on your heels. So what we talked about tonight was how we’re going to defend against that a little bit better. It’s something that we haven’t seen and that’s what we’ve got to focus on.”

Sarah Braungard reached on a fielder’s choice, then Miranda lived on an error and both runners scored when Martin helped her own cause with a two-run single to center field, putting the Lady Pioneers in front 4-0.

“I thought Lacey threw very well – I just think they got the bat on the ball and that’s the game of softball/baseball,” Hough said. “Anytime you’re putting it in play, sometimes you kinda feel snakebit yourself, but they did a good job of putting it in play.”

In the bottom of that inning, Warwick had the top of its order facing Martin and they quickly put themselves in business as Royer (2-for-3) worked a five-pitch free pass, Lefever (2-for-4) singled to right and Byler (3-for-3, 3 RBI’s) punched a seeing-eye single up the middle to drive in Royer. Following Nikole Rottkamp’s fielder’s choice grounder, Vanessa Strohm walked to load the bases, but Martin wriggled out of trouble with one of her three K’s and a comebacker.

“Sometimes unfortunately,” Hough said, “we rely a little bit too much on Nikole to come up with a big hit and I think she feels that pressure from time to time and I think we’re just trying to get her to let the other kids do it. Today, I don’t think we adjusted too well to their second pitcher (Weaver), but I think if we start doing that, we’re going to be fine.”

Autumn Johnson singled and later scored on a wild pitch and then Braungard added an RBI single in Lampeter-Strasburg’s two-run fifth-inning rally off of reliever Eckman, which pushed its lead to 6-2.

Byler’s two-out RBI single in the bottom of the sixth plated Royer, who doubled, to cut their deficit to three runs, but Warwick would get no closer. Weaver, who pitched the final four frames in relief, walked three and whiffed 11, including three of the final four she faced, to nail it down.

Last Friday, Rottkamp went 3-for-4 with two triples, a double, four RBI’s and three runs scored, leading the Lady Warriors in a 10-2 romp over Donegal in a non-league game in Mt. Joy.

Jenny George and Nicole Mengel each chipped in with two hits in support of Eckman, who struck out six and allowed only four hits in the complete-game win.

Bruce Morgan is the sports editor for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at bmorgan.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4451.

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